Louie by Harry Hanan

Harry Hanan was a British-American comic artist, best known for his long-running pantomime gag-a-day comic 'Louie' (1947-1976). The series was an international success, published in over 23 countries. 

Early life and career
Harry Hanan was born in 1916 in Liverpool, Lancashire. Encouraged by his mother, he studied art at the Liverpool School of Art, after which he became an illustrator, cartoonist, editor and film critic for the Liverpool Evening Express. Hanan earned additional income designing posters and stage sets for theatrical productions in his birthtown. In 1940 he married Marjorie Goode. During World War II, he spent six years in the British army as an infantry commander.


After his military service, Hanan's mother had arranged a job for him at a small press paper. He soon applied for a magazine with a larger circulation, the London weekly The People. The editors asked him to create a weekly cartoon, which became 'Louie'. The first episode was published in March 1947. Louie is a small man with a black moustache. Originally he was an unsuccesful criminal. He tried to rob people and banks, but failed every time. Readers enjoyed his mishaps and Hanan was encouraged to create more episodes.

Since 'Louie' is a pantomime comic, it allowed for easy global translation. The series was syndicated in the United States by Publishers-Hall, then distributed by The Chicago Tribune Syndicate afterwards, eventually running in over 100 U.S. papers. 'Louie' was additionally published in over 23 countries. In some his name stayed the same, such as in the Mexican magazine Novedades. In others, readers knew him under another name. In Sweden he was translated as 'Ludvig' and published in the Göteborgs-Posten. In the Canadian province Québec, 'Louie' ran as 'Eusèbe' in Le Petit Journal. The character had no less than three different names in Spanish. In the Argentinean magazine D'Artagnan 'Louie' ran under the title 'Juan Cépillo', while in Cuba he was known as 'Luisín' and the Spanish publishing company Bruguera syndicated the series in Spain as 'Rebeco'. 'Louie' additionally ran in Turkey and Japan.

In November 1948, Hanan moved to the United States, settling down in Westfield, New Jersey. He loved 'Louie', because working on one single comic strip a week was much easier than a daily newspaper cartoon. More than one observer has noticed that the character bears a striking resemblance with his creator. Interviewed by Erwin Knoll for Editor and Publisher (15 May 1952), Hanan confessed that he shared Louie's streak for mischievous behavior: "Whenever I see women with feathered hats, I have to surpress the urge to snip the feathers off." Nevertheless, once 'Louie' became a global success, the character abandoned his criminal activities and became a more common, but still terribly unlucky civilian. The series ran until 1976, after which Hanan retired. 

Final years and death
Harry Hanan was also active as a painter. His works were exhibited at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, the Metropolitan Museum in New York and the William Allen White Foundation at the University of Kansas. He passed away in 1982, at the age of 65. Several of Hanan's personal archives are nowadays in custody of the University Library of Syracuse, New York. 


Louie on Ger Apeldoorn's blog

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